Any successful bowhunter will tell you that nothing can ruin a hunt quicker than ineffective stand placement and setup. And while it is more critical for the bowhunter because of the limited capabilities associated with archery gear, rifle hunters can learn a great deal by taking a peak at the bowhunter's playbook.

"Your stand can make or break your season," says Bill Winke, noted bowhunter and outdoor writer. "I know because I've struggled with stands that didn't fit the way I was hunting, and it didn't take long to get discouraged.

"Many hunters take stand selection for granted because they don't realize how big an impact it can have on their comfort, safety and hunting results. Before heading out in search of a new deer stand, think about how and where you'll be using it. Not every deer hunter's needs are alike."

In the case of the rifle hunter, deer stands serve the same basic purpose (to elevate the hunter above ground level) as those used by their bowhunting kindred. In both cases, the hunter is relying on the animals he is hunting to walk within shooting range of where his deer stand is located. And even though the effective shooting range of the rifle hunter is considerably farther, choosing the optimum stand location remains critical to his success.

With hundreds, if not thousands, of models to choose from, deciding which stand to use can be a daunting task for any deer hunter. However, the type of stand you use and where you decide to use it can determine the outcome of your hunt.

There is a place and time to use every type of deer stand on the market. One of the primary factors determining successful deer stand hunting is to keep your options open to all types of stands.

Of all the options available to today's deer hunter, there are five basic types of stands.

Ladder stands

Ladder stands are a good choice for high-traffic areas like funnels, creek crossings or food plots. These are the locations you hunt every year because deer are either forced to travel through them because of the terrain or frequent them in search of a supplemental food source in the form of a winter food plot.

Most modern ladder stands are made from steel, come in two or more manageable pieces, and are easy to assemble. Once these very stable stands are securely attached to the tree, hunters can quietly climb up without spooking nearby game.

Ladder stands are good choices for youngsters and inexperienced hunters. Big, two-person ladder stands are available that provide plenty of room for two hunters. Most single-seat models have a weight limit of 300 pounds, while many two-person ladder stands can handle loads up to 500 pounds. Throw in a padded seat and a rock-solid shooting rail, and you have an excellent stand for the rifle hunter.

Hanging stands

Sometimes referred to as "hang-ons" or "lock-ons," these are perhaps the most versatile stands available to deer hunters. These stands are light weight, usually less than 12 pounds, and extremely portable.

Hanging stands offer several systems for attachment to the tree. Most utilize chains or nylon straps, while others combine these methods with an attachment that screws into the tree for added stability.

Used primarily by bowhunters, hanging stands are gaining popularity among rifle hunters looking for added concealment. Hanging stands work best in trees with plenty of big branches like hackberries, cedars and elms because they can be installed without trimming a bunch of limbs, thereby remaining more hidden within the branches of the tree. Climbing sticks and screw-in steps make accessing your hanging stand a simple task.

Although hanging stands are considered the most dangerous types of stands, many safety features such as larger platforms and more secure step systems have been a big improvement.

Another negative aspect of hanging stands is that very few models offer a shooting rail, which can be very helpful to a rifle hunter needing a steady rest to make that long-distance shot.

Climbing stands

Many hunters like climbing stands because they offer complete versatility. By backpacking in each hunting trip, hunters can select a different tree for their stand every time. That is, as long as there are plenty of straight trees. The biggest drawback of climbing stands is that they must be used on straight, mature trees. And unless you enjoy using a limb saw, be sure to pick out a tree that has few or no lower branches.

Climbing stands come in two pieces - the top, or seat, and the bottom, or foot platform. Each piece is attached to the tree, usually with a rigid cable or chain. The hunter then attaches his feet to the platform, grasps the top portion, and "inch-worms" himself up the tree to the desired hunting height.

One of the biggest benefits of using a climbing stand is the element of surprise. Your odds of killing a deer from a stand the first time you hunt is greater than at any other time. Each time you hunt a particular location, you are reducing the chances of shooting a trophy there because you are spreading scent in the area.

Deer can also be spooked by a hunter walking into his stand, especially if the hunter approaches the stand along the same trail every time. The ability to take a stand into a different location each time can be quite valuable.

While most climbing stands do feature a rail around the upper portion for added safety, it is rarely suitable for use as a shooting rest. Rifle hunters utilizing a climbing stand may find it beneficial to carry along a shooting stick to help steady their shot.

Tripod stands

Each of the previously mentioned types of stands has one thing in common: They each require a tree in order to be used. But what if there are no trees large enough for a ladder or a hanging stand, or tall and straight enough for a climbing stand? In these situations, a tripod is the perfect solution.

A tripod stand consists of a swivel seat mounted on a platform supported by three legs, one of which contains a ladder or steps to access the platform. Most tripod stands are 12-15 feet tall, and feature a sturdy shooting rail that completely surrounds the stand.

Tripod stands offer greater mobility than ladder stands, but are also difficult to transport. These stands are great for quickly moving in on a specific buck. They are also popular in cutovers where hunters need to be able to scan 360 degrees without excessive movement that might attract a wary buck's attention. Camo covers and canopies are also available to help conceal the hunter and protect him from the elements.

Tower blind stands

Tower blind stands are basically enclosed boxes of various dimensions. These stands come in many models ranging from simple homemade wooden boxes on legs to advanced UV-stabilized polyethylene walls with plexiglass windows. Some even have heaters and toilets.

If you are looking for the creature comforts of home, then tower blind stands are the answer. They are great for young hunters who are a bit too fidgety for an open-sided stand. And when the weather is cold and wet, you can stay warm and dry inside one of these shooting houses.

"Tower blind stands are useful in observing whitetails and in herd reduction," says Dr. James Kroll, one of the foremost authorities on white-tailed deer biology and management. "However, blinds seldom can be used effectively for hunting mature bucks, except on a blind-rotation basis."

Deer stand placement

There is a place and time for every type of deer stand. When it comes to hunting whitetails, especially trophy bucks, the more stands you have to choose from, the better the hunting. A broad selection of stand sites ensures that you'll have a place to hunt regardless of wind direction or stage of the deer season. In addition, it's a good idea to avoid hunting the same stand more than once per week. By limiting hunting pressure on any one stand, you avoid mature bucks becoming suspicious of your presence.

"According to my research findings, mature bucks adjust their activity patterns and habitat selection to reduce the probability of encountering a human," Kroll said. "My experience has shown that bucks quickly learn the location of a stand and take avoidance maneuvers by the third day of occupation by a hunter. Stands that have been in the same location for years are avoided by mature bucks."

Certain stand locations will produce consistent results year after year. In most cases, these stand locations are best during a particular portion of the hunting season. Some stands produce better during the rut, others early in the season, and still others very late in the season.

With few exceptions, most top deer stand locations are productive for a limited time each season. The key is to identify when these stands are most productive, and focus your efforts on them during that narrow time period. For instance, an oak tree that's dropping acorns might attract deer for a two or three-week period, but once the acorns stop falling, the deer activity comes to a screeching halt.

One of the biggest mistakes deer hunters make is overusing a particular stand site. We all have been guilty of this act, especially after spotting a trophy buck from a given stand. Against our better judgment, we get stuck hunting that one location. We return to the stand time and time again, hoping the same buck will reappear. However, pressuring one hot stand is a sure way to turn it cold.

Wherever you end up placing your stand, consider the location a scouting spot. Paying close attention to detail, specifically deer activity and inactivity, will pay off in more opportunities at a trophy buck.

There are a wide variety of deer stands from which to choose. Your choice of stand type should be determined by the habitat you hunt and the specific set of conditions present. But make sure your own personal safety is top priority.